Staff at Icelandic developer CCP have become adversely affected by the aggression of the collective EVE Online community, according to CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, although he had nothing but praise for individual players.
Speaking following revolt and frustration by players enraged by leaked documents and the latest Incarna update, Pétursson said anger at individual members of his team is misdirected, and affects the mindset of the entire business.
"People at CCP who have been in the business of relating to EVE subscribers have developed a hard skin because the player base can be very quite aggressive," Pétursson told GamesIndustry.biz in an exclusive interview published today.
"I have seen people buckle under the pressure of talking to them as a group. To clam up and not be as open as they were prior to that. And really that's the nature of the beast."
I've never met a player who has been anything less than a stellar example of nice things, but when they come together they can be quite antagonistic
Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CCP
An internal document leaked following the release of Incarna implied CCP saw EVE as a "golden goose", upsetting fans who have invested hours of time in the sandbox game. Pétursson said the document itself was taken out of context, and the company never takes the players for granted when they themselves create so much of the value and content for the game.
"It's not something that we refer to EVE or the player base as internally. It was in the newsletter to make a point. And that's all it is, it's not emblematic of internal dialogue.
"The newsletter that's out there is an internal tool for discussion and debate, where people take very polarised views and write in a debating fashion, conflicting their own views, just to debate points. That's been taken as literal memos on behalf of the company when it's something entirely different," he said.
The EVE community responded with anger and in-game protests, and last week Pétursson told the audience at Games Horizon that bullets and baseball bats had been sent to the offices in Iceland. But he maintains that when the players are not acting as a mob, they are some of the most valuable fans a developer could wish for.
"I don't think I've ever, in the eight years I've been doing this, met an EVE player in person that wasn't fantastically enthusiastic about what we're doing. And it's been like a wonderful experience every single time," he said.
"I've never met an EVE player who has been anything less than a stellar example of nice things, but when they come together they can be quite antagonistic. Which is fine, I'm in the job of having that thrown at me and that's perfectly fine.
"But when they are singling out individual employees of CCP that are doing their job, that's when it gets a little too much. There have been people that are being singled out by the player base as the root of all evil when in fact they are just debating a point. I would just recommend they turn their attention to the people who hold responsibility of answering to them, whether it's me or a senior producer."
The full interview with Pétursson, where he discusses the reasoning behind adding micro-transactions to a subscription game, the fallout from Incarna and evolution of EVE Online, can be read here.